As in her other works, Block weaves together themes of subtle magic, youthful hopes, modern urban decay, and deep emotion, told with lyrical storybook language.The stories in NYMPH bear all the hallmarks of classic Francesca Lia Block–punk-spirited characters who celebrate love, life, and art– with one important different: this time the author carries her vision through the full range of emotion and erotic interaction that her mature audience appreciates.
An interconnected series of stories, NYMPH is a special journey through the lives and loves of characters like Plum, a Crayon-haired girl who has a gift: if she makes love with a person, that person will then meet their true love, or Tom, a burned out surfer whose luck changes when he is rescued by a mysterious, wheelchair-bound woman, or Sylvie, a chronically depressed poet who finds beauty in unexpected places. Block’s erotic explorations of these smoky, kaleidoscopic fables are anything but conventional; these are stories of love, loss, and life, about the healing power of sex and bonding.
Many many great reviews were published for the original hardcover and paperback editions of the book. Here are just a few excerpts:
“There are spirits, magic, an erotic undersea rescue that spills out onto land, linked dreams, and a powerfully wicked pornographic surgeon. When a dancer in a strip club waves her many arms like tentacles, I was reminded of Tanner Sack, the amphibious Remade in China Mieville’s The Scar. But the stories in Nymph don’t take the reader to another, distant world, but deeper into the unspoken places of this one. Each story is small and radiant, with delicate, precise language and spare settings that open into hidden recesses of consciousness and sexuality.” — Susan Stinson, Strange Horizons
“The author of the beloved Weetzie Bat books .. offers a slim collection of adult stories, erotica for grown-up goth maidens and sexpots who like their tales of passion infused with witchy magic. These nine interconnected tales celebrate carnal delights and the transformative power of love, with occasional lapses into syrupy repetition, but they also peek compassionately into romances laced with themes of grief, heartbreak and renewal.” –Publishers Weekly
“Block (I Was a Teenage Fairy, 1998, etc.) moves into the adult market—the very adult market—in a series of tales tied together by lyrical sex that would stir a wooden Indian. Call these bedtime firecrackers.” — Kirkus Reviews
“This is a book of subtleties and sensations directed more towards our Senses and sensibilities than our base desire to read about good hot sex in graphic and descriptive language. Francesca Lia Block sharpens our senses with anticipation rather then numbing them with receptive and un mediated images. She understands well the potential of Fantasy Genre to support this type of the erotic short story.” — Philip Kaveny, Midwest Book Review
From “Mer” by Francesca Lia Block
She rises up from the water, the drops slicking her breasts, beading tremulous at her nipples. The curve of her hips sheathed tight in something sheer and silver, glimmering beneath the narrow swoon of her waist. She tosses her head and smiles at him; her mouth is like the shadowy place nestled under the fabric that he knows he can never reach. He lumbers across the grasping sand toward the water, his cock leading him, plunging him into the wet salt swell.
When Tom Mac wakes he can still taste the waves and feel his limbs rocking; there is a silver-green light in his head and he has a massive hard- on. He knows there was more to the dream but he can’t remember, and after a few minutes his erection is gone.
Maybe I’ll go out today, he thinks but he knows he won’t. It has been too long already. It will only remind him of how it had been before.
He gets out of bed to take a piss and sees his reflection in the mirror—sandy-blond longish hair and tan bristly skin, the lines around his blue-green eyes. His body has grown thick and slow, the once taut bulging muscles losing their tone. What would Tawny say if she saw him now? That she was right. Right for leaving. That she could have predicted this—the ex-pro living in the house now overgrown with wisteria vines, drinking too much, hanging out on the boardwalk, never touching his board.
Instead of going back to bed he tugs on the shirt that smells the least—a hooded woven one from Mexico, a pair of shorts and huaraches. His heart is thumping as if he really is going back to the water—he knows he isn’t. But he also knows he has to get to the pier before the sun and the crowds. He has to get out there.
It is still early and gray and damp. A mist hangs in the air, clings to his hair and skin, tasting of the ocean. Sometimes it is like fucking, he finds himself thinking for the first time in so long, when you ride the swell, feeling it folding around you glistening and wet and briney. And he can hardly remember either of them.
The boardwalk is almost empty. Later the vendors will arrive with their crystals and T-shirts and cheap sunglasses; the fortunetellers and clowns and acrobats will come, the bodybuilders and Rollerbladers and tourists. But now it is just Sage and Whitman and a few of the other homeless whose names no one seems to know, huddled on graffiti-scrawled wooden benches. Even the surfers haven’t shown up; the sea looks flat and steely. The cans are brimming with junk food remnants, pigeons are scavenging; there is a slightly toxic smell. Tom thinks, And this is paradise, this is my paradise. Remembering Tawny dancing to the drums right here that night with her breasts straining the bikini top and the tye-dyed sarong hanging low under her flat brown stomach. Her hair still crusted with salt and the way she always smelled like summer.
Tom buys five cups of coffee and distributes four to the men on the bench, keeps one, sips it even though it is still scalding, liking the feel of the burn on his tongue. Whitman says, “You up early, Mac,” and Tom nods. Had a dream, he wants to say. They would probably understand. They aren’t that much different than he is. Dreams, mostly forgotten, that keep you going when otherwise you might decide not to wake up again. And he is the lucky one, isn’t he? Has the house to keep away the cold.
The house he’d bought at the height of things when he and Tawny first met, when he wanted a base in Southern California to return to between exotic wave-chasings. It is a small white Craftsman bungalow with a glassed-in porch, big windows; the wisteria vine with its purple blossoms has grown so thick now that not much light got in anymore. Tawny liked the wood floors bare and cool, the rooms mostly empty except for bed and pillows and boards. Now it is cluttered with shit and he keeps promising himself that he is going to do something about that.
Instead of going back he walks down the boardwalk with his cup of coffee. He draws up his hood because the mist is forming drops now, but he doesn’t want to go home. The dream is still whirling in the pit of his stomach, making his muscles twitch, scratching at his balls.
The girl in the wheelchair rides toward him out of the grayness. When he sees her Tom MacDougal feels as if he has swallowed a mouthful of salt water and it is caught in his throat. There are beautiful babes all the time, everywhere at the beach, but rarely this. So beautiful that he hardly notices the wheelchair or that her legs and feet are wrapped in tight silvery fabric covered with half-moon shaped spangles.
As she approaches him she smiles as if she knows him. Her teeth are white and sharp and her lips are stung, wet. He just keeps staring. Her eyes are crystally green and wide-spaced. Her breasts show through her soaking T-shirt, every curve and swell and the tender dark nipples so he feels as if he is touching them. Then she runs her long slender fingers over her collarbone, the slope of breasts, lingering beneath them and pulls the T-shirt off. Rain spills in rivulets over her perfect brown body. Perfect, he thinks, she is perfect.
Crazy perfect, like him, alone in the rain, pulling off her shirt for a stranger.
He approaches her slowly, the way you would a startled animal, although she doesn’t seem afraid. His voice is hoarse and soft. “You okay?”
She nods, still smiling at him. He tries not to stare at her breasts. They seem too big for her delicate frame, her waist so small and her ribs showing. “You’ll get cold, sweetheart.”
She shakes her head, swinging the matted blonde dreadlocks that hang down to her waist.
“Do you need some help?” he asks her.
She gestures for him to come close. He can feel his cock stirring in his shorts. Smelling her; she is clean, salty. He wants to dive. Her nipples are erect; he wants to feel them against his lips. Everything tingling.
She reaches up and touches the side of his unshaven face with her finger, letting it slide down over his adam’s apple. “Take me home with you,” she says softly.
The whole impact of the night before is back, his penis throbbing. He takes off the woven shirt and gives it to her. “Put this on. You’ll get sick.”
She pouts slightly like a little girl but does it, getting caught so that he has to help her, trying to avoid touching her breasts. Her head emerges through the neck hole of the shirt, those eyes and that sly sweet mouth so close to him, that wild hair. “Take me home, Mac.”
He figures one of the guys at the beach has told her his name. But still it startles him. And he wants to know.
Tom wheels the girl back up the boardwalk across the street to the house. He leaves the wheelchair at the foot of the porch and takes her in his arms. She is very light but also longer than she looks in the chair. Her lower body feels much more muscular than he would have thought, the tight weight of her ass against his forearms and wrists. Her long slender arms circle his neck the way a child holds on. He feels something like power returning to him, like right before he used to take a wave…
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Francesca Lia Block’s edgy tales of the Los Angeles dreamscape that is ‘Shangri-L.A.’ have thrilled millions of readers and literary critics alike. The author of Weetzie Bat, Dangerous Angels, The Rose and the Beast, and several other best-selling books here brings her sensual, dream-like fantasies full circle with this erotic work for adult readers, NYMPH.